The Department of Agriculture's conservation programs are the single largest investment of federal taxpayer's dollars that pay farmers to adopt practices with environmental and public health benefits. Five of the most prominent programs made almost $14 billion in payments to farmers and farmland owners between 2017 and 2020 alone.
Used wisely, these program investments can help us make great strides in protecting our health and improving our quality of life and the environment. But there is also room for reform: Some of the practices that receive the most funding through these programs provide few environmental benefits.
EWG's Conservation Database provides a detailed look at how federal dollars have been spent through five major USDA conservation programs, from fiscal year 2017 through 2020.